Cash Rewards Credit Cards

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MarathonInvestor
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Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by MarathonInvestor » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:09 pm

I'm considering applying a cash rewards credit cards and was wondering if anyone else has experience with the two cards listed below.

I am considering these cards for the following reasons:
a. They offer cash rewards (I prefer cash over points, miles, etc...).
b. I only want a single card for all of my purchases and these cards offer the highest cash back percentages for all purchase categories (i.e. I don't want to use one card for gas and another card for groceries, etc...)
c. They pay a cash bonus for signing up.

Amex Blue Cash Preferred:
+ $150 cash reward after spending $1000 in the first 3 months
+ 6% cash back on groceries (for up to $6000/yr, 1% thereafter)
+ 3% cash back on gas purchases
+ 1% cash back on all other purchases
- $75 annual fee

Bank of America Cash Rewards:
+ $100 cash reward after spending $500 in the first 3 months
+ 2% cash back on groceries (for up to $1500 grocery and gas purchase/qtr, 1% thereafter)
+ 3% cash back on gas (for up to $1500 grocery and gas purchase/qtr, 1% thereafter)
+ 1% cash back on all other purchases
+ 10% bonus reward for cash rewards deposited into a B of A account (ex. $100 cash rewards will be deposited as $110 into a B of A account)
+ no annual fee

Just looking at the numbers, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card is supperior due to the higher reward percentages, however, their terms state the following:
You will earn a reward of: 6% on the first $6,000 of eligible purchases in an annual reward year at supermarkets located in the U.S. (superstores and warehouse clubs are not considered supermarkets).
Since I do most of my grocery shopping at my local Walmart, I am unclear as to whether either of these cards will count purchases at Walmart as "grocery" purchases eligible for the higher reward amounts.

The B of A cash rewards card states the following regarding the 2% reward for grocery purchases:
Eligible merchants and the associated merchant category codes ("MCC") for the Bonus Categories are the following: (a) Grocery (MCC 5411-Grocery Stores/Supermarkets, 5422-Freezer/Meat Lockers, 5441-Candy/Nut/Confection Stores, 5451-Dairy Product Stores, 5462-Bakeries, and 5499-Misc. Food Stores-- please note that this list does not include codes for “Discount Stores” or “Wholesale Clubs”)
I looked up the MCC codes for my local Walmart and it is assigned a MCC code of 5411-Grocery.

Since the B of A card terms specifically mentions MCC code 5411, I am fairly confident that Walmart purchases will qualify, but I don't know if the Amex card uses the same MCC codes to categorize transactions.

Can anyone with experience using these cards confirm that grocery purchases at Walmart qualify for the higher rewards amount.

stan1
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by stan1 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:14 pm

One nice thing about my B of A cash rewards card is that 2 or 3 times per year they have a "special offer" of 5% back on restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores (up to $500 spend).

I think you should get both cards if you spend enough on groceries to overcome the $75 annual fee on the Amex card.

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Sheepdog
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by Sheepdog » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:24 pm

You said that you want only one card. A problem with the American Express Blue Cash is that it is not universally accepted as Visa, MC are, which makes having only one card a problem. Otherwise it is a good card if you spend enough to overcome the $75 fee
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mike143
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by mike143 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:26 pm

I refuse to play the rotating categories game. I write on the face of the card what it is for until I can remember, example "5% gas".

What I carry:
Grocery @ 6%: Amex Blue Preferred
Gas @ 5%: PenFed
Amazon/Dining @ 5%: Citi Forward
All @ 2% Fidelity Amex
All @ 2%: Priceline Visa
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CABob
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by CABob » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:25 pm

I'm not sure how it compares and it does have the rotating "special" rewards, but, you might consider the Chase Freedom card.
https://creditcards.chase.com/freedom/Default.aspx
Also the Discover card is pretty good, but, this one also is not accepted everywhere.
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MnD
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by MnD » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:55 pm

Get a 2% on everything card as your base.
If you charge everything possible, you will not do better overall using a single category card for everything that has 1% as a base.

If you want and can tolerate a multi-card system, add fixed category cards that offer 3-4-5-6% on fixed categories you use when those exceed the 2% card.
Use them only for the cash back above your base 2% back card.
Never use a category card for a 1% cash back.

A 2% card is great, you can improve a little bit with a multi-card system if only using the additional cards when getting more than 2%.
It's not rocket science.

Mike143 gives a good specific example.

Brogleski
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by Brogleski » Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:10 am

As stated earlier, the problem with American Express is that it isn't as widely accepted as Visa/Mastercard. If you only want one card, it should be Visa or Mastercard. Also, there are no 2% Visa/Mastercards currently available*, so that's out too.

OP, have you considered the BankAmericard Privileges?
-$100 signup bonus
-$75 annual fee (waived the first year)
-3% gas and 2% groceries (up to $1500 combined per quarter), 1% everything else
-50% bonus if redeemed into BoA account, effectively making it 4.5% gas, 3% groceries, 1.5% everything else
-Visa, so it's widely accepted


* edit: without annual fee
Last edited by Brogleski on Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
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ieee488
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by ieee488 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:53 am

No American Express for me. Ever. http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... &p=1669034

I have some sort of Bank of America card. It has no annual fee. I use it for 3% gas in the first and third quarters of the year when Chase Freedom's 5% on gas is not in effect.
I use Barclays at Target and Walmart for the 2%.

This year I used Chase Freedom's 5% at drugstore to stock up on gift cards. I was able to get $200 Whole Foods gift card. Next year I might up that to $500.
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dickenjb
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by dickenjb » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:14 am

Just get a Capital One Venture Visa card and get 2% back on everything. $59 annual fee, waived the first year. They gave me $1100 to open the account but that was during the Alec Baldwin "We'll match your hard to use airline miles" promo.

MarathonInvestor
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by MarathonInvestor » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:25 am

Most of my purchases with this card will be at major gas stations, grocery and department stores that I'm fairly sure will accept Amex, but I will double check before applying. However, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card will only be worth it if my grocery purchases from Walmart are eligible for the 6% cash back rewards.

I have done some "googling" to find a definite answer to this, but have not yet found someone who has the Amex Blue Cash card and has indeed received the full 6% grocery rewards for Walmart purchases.

As stated in my original post, my local Walmart (and Target) has a MCC code of "5411-Grocery", however, many people claim Amex does not use the MCC codes to categorize purchases and that Walmart purchases will not qualify for the higher reward amount.

Can anyone confirm where or not Walmart grocery purchases will qualify for the 6% Amex Blue Cash rewards?

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Sheepdog
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by Sheepdog » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:30 am

Two years ago, Blue Cash did not give the grocery reward at Walmart....only at freestanding groceries. Now? I don't know.
edit: I found this recent review which someone wrote about Walmart purchases with this card,
I love getting 6% back on my groceries, I only wish this benefit included Wal-Mart, Target and Costco!.

Here is another one card you may consider. Capital One Quicksilver http://www.capitalone.com/credit-cards/ ... F514804746


Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
No rotating categories and no sign ups needed to earn
cash rewards
Redeem the cash back you earn for any amount, any time
Save with a low intro APR on purchases and no annual fee
One-time $100 bonus once you spend $500 on purchases
within the first 3 months
Last edited by Sheepdog on Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by jay22 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:37 am

I have a question for the people with the Amex Fidelity 2% card. Do you have to have a brokerage account with Fidelity with a minimum amount in it to redeem the cash back? I was reading somewhere that you can open an account with Fidelity, keep it at 0 balance and after you get the cash back, just get it transferred to your bank account. Does it work like that?

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danwhite77
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by danwhite77 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:40 am

I have used, and been extraordinarily happy with, CapitalOne cards for years and years. Their Quicksilver card is 1.5% cash back on everything. This is the highest overall (i.e., no rotating categories) reward rate that you can receive without opening a financial account at an institution (e.g., Fidelity). I'm exclusively a Vanguard investor and I don't want to open a Fidelity account, so I have avoided their 2% cards (which seem to be very popular on this board).
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MnD
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by MnD » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:44 am

dickenjb wrote:Just get a Capital One Venture Visa card and get 2% back on everything. $59 annual fee, waived the first year. They gave me $1100 to open the account but that was during the Alec Baldwin "We'll match your hard to use airline miles" promo.
This seems to have an invisibility cloak but yes, there is a 2% back on everything Visa per the above.

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mike143
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by mike143 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:56 am

jay22 wrote:I was reading somewhere that you can open an account with Fidelity, keep it at 0 balance and after you get the cash back, just get it transferred to your bank account. Does it work like that?
That's what I do. Its called "Fidelity Cash Management Account". You transfer you points as cash to that and then can transfer to another bank account. Recently I started using the cash for their brokerage account to check it out. Already have a Vanguard Roth IRA and Brokerage.
danwhite77 wrote:I have used, and been extraordinarily happy with, CapitalOne cards for years and years. Their Quicksilver card is 1.5% cash back on everything. This is the highest overall (i.e., no rotating categories) reward rate that you can receive without opening a financial account at an institution (e.g., Fidelity). I'm exclusively a Vanguard investor and I don't want to open a Fidelity account, so I have avoided their 2% cards (which seem to be very popular on this board).
Wrong, Priceline Visa 2% all, can't be easier, redeem rewards against account balance. Fidelity is not that bad I redeem for cash and use to transfer to my bank account, now I started playing with their brokerage account instead of transferring the cash.
MarathonInvestor wrote:Can anyone confirm where or not Walmart grocery purchases will qualify for the 6% Amex Blue Cash rewards?
I think some had luck back in the day if they used registers on the grocery side, but I think those days are long gone. I just use one of my 2% cards at Walmart. Alternatively you can sign up for the various Chase/Southwest credit cards and take $500 in Walmart gift cards then close the account, on third round for both the wife and I now.
Last edited by mike143 on Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Sheepdog
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by Sheepdog » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:01 am

mike143 wrote:
jay22 wrote:I was reading somewhere that you can open an account with Fidelity, keep it at 0 balance and after you get the cash back, just get it transferred to your bank account. Does it work like that?
That's what I do. Its called "Fidelity Cash Management Account". You transfer you points as cash to that and then can transfer to another bank account. Recently I started using the cash for their brokerage account to check it out. Already have a Vanguard Roth IRA and Brokerage.
danwhite77 wrote:I have used, and been extraordinarily happy with, CapitalOne cards for years and years. Their Quicksilver card is 1.5% cash back on everything. This is the highest overall (i.e., no rotating categories) reward rate that you can receive without opening a financial account at an institution (e.g., Fidelity). I'm exclusively a Vanguard investor and I don't want to open a Fidelity account, so I have avoided their 2% cards (which seem to be very popular on this board).
Wrong, Priceline Visa 2% all, can't be easier, redeem rewards against account balance. Fidelity is not that bad I redeem for cash and use to transfer to my bank account, now I started playing with their brokerage account instead of transferring the cash.
Mike, Priceline no longer issues a 2% rebate card. It was cancelled for new applicants about 3 or so months ago
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mike143
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by mike143 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:05 am

Sheepdog wrote:Mike, Priceline no longer issues a 2% rebate card. It was cancelled for new applicants about 3 or so months ago
I stand corrected. I will keep an eye on if they reduce it for current card holders.
Nothing is free, someone pays...You can't spend your way to financial freedom.

DEBTINATOR
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by DEBTINATOR » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:18 am

I don't think anyone has mentioned the Barclay's Arrival card. It is a new variant From Barclays, similar to the priceline 2%.

The differences:
1. 89 dollar annual fee
2. 400 signup bonus (4.xx years of fees)
3. redemption method is the same as priceline, BUT if you redeem for non-travel expenses it will get you 1% back. if you redeem for travel expenses it will net you 2.2% back.

More profitable if you have occasional travel expenses- flights, tolls, taxi, etc.

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mike143
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by mike143 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:27 am

My problem with all these travel cards is that I don't travel. That's why I take the $500 gift cards instead of the $800 flight for the Southwest/Chase deals.
mike143 wrote:Alternatively you can sign up for the various Chase/Southwest credit cards and take $500 in Walmart gift cards then close the account, on third round for both the wife and I now.
Then its best to use these gift cards at Sam's Club since I don't have any cards that yield cash back there.
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polaris007us
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by polaris007us » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:31 am

As much as I don't like to support mega banks that wrought such a havoc with the economy, my vote goes to Bank of America cash rewards. Have been using for more than a year. :D :moneybag
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ddunca1944
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by ddunca1944 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:44 am

MnD wrote:
dickenjb wrote:Just get a Capital One Venture Visa card and get 2% back on everything. $59 annual fee, waived the first year. They gave me $1100 to open the account but that was during the Alec Baldwin "We'll match your hard to use airline miles" promo.
This seems to have an invisibility cloak but yes, there is a 2% back on everything Visa per the above.
+1

We have just switched our primary rewards card from Chase Freedom to Cap One Ventures. We use a 2 card system with our second card being the Costco Amex. Reason forvthe switch is that Cahse Freedon no longer has groceries as one of their 5% categories and I am tired of tracking the rotating categories.

MarathonInvestor
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by MarathonInvestor » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:58 am

ddunca1944 wrote:
MnD wrote:
dickenjb wrote:Just get a Capital One Venture Visa card and get 2% back on everything. $59 annual fee, waived the first year. They gave me $1100 to open the account but that was during the Alec Baldwin "We'll match your hard to use airline miles" promo.
This seems to have an invisibility cloak but yes, there is a 2% back on everything Visa per the above.
+1

We have just switched our primary rewards card from Chase Freedom to Cap One Ventures. We use a 2 card system with our second card being the Costco Amex. Reason forvthe switch is that Cahse Freedon no longer has groceries as one of their 5% categories and I am tired of tracking the rotating categories.
Do you have a link to this Capital One Venture Visa that pays 2% cash back? The only one I found is their small business Spark card and their other Venture Rewards card pays rewards as miles, not cash.

If the 2% cash back Capital One Venture Rewards card isn't available, I think I will consider the Capital One Cash Rewards card for the following:

1. Cash Rewards (no miles or points that have to be redeemed)
2. 1.5% cash back on all purchases (no yearly or quarterly reward limits and no categories to worry about)
3. No additional accounts required to receive the max cash back amount
4. No annual fee

The 2% cash back on groceries and 3% on gas offered by the BofA card is only good for the first $1500 (combined grocery and gas purchases) per quarter, and drops to 1% after that. After a certain amount of grocery and gas purchases, the cumulative cash back for the year can actually be <1.5%.

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danwhite77
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by danwhite77 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:42 am

MnD wrote:
dickenjb wrote:Just get a Capital One Venture Visa card and get 2% back on everything. $59 annual fee, waived the first year. They gave me $1100 to open the account but that was during the Alec Baldwin "We'll match your hard to use airline miles" promo.
This seems to have an invisibility cloak but yes, there is a 2% back on everything Visa per the above.
Are you all sure? I took out the Venture card, based on similar posts here at BH a number of months ago, but when I went to redeem for cash instead of miles on the reward site, they applied a 1% decrement so the cash back was only 1% (while the miles equivalent when purchasing an airline ticket was 2%). My dad had the same experience. Did I do something wrong or have they changed the terms of the card since the people stating that you can get a full 2% cash signed up for their cards?
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danwhite77
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by danwhite77 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:52 am

mike143 wrote:
danwhite77 wrote:I have used, and been extraordinarily happy with, CapitalOne cards for years and years. Their Quicksilver card is 1.5% cash back on everything. This is the highest overall (i.e., no rotating categories) reward rate that you can receive without opening a financial account at an institution (e.g., Fidelity). I'm exclusively a Vanguard investor and I don't want to open a Fidelity account, so I have avoided their 2% cards (which seem to be very popular on this board).
Wrong, Priceline Visa 2% all, can't be easier, redeem rewards against account balance. Fidelity is not that bad I redeem for cash and use to transfer to my bank account, now I started playing with their brokerage account instead of transferring the cash.
I really don't think I'm wrong. When I go to the Priceline Visa site, I get this:

https://www.pricelinevisa.com/apply/Lan ... &BCUSVANHP

The link clearly states $1 = 1 point.

Also, according to this thread, the Priceline 2% card is no longer available as of May of this year:

http://creditcardforum.com/rewards/7410 ... -dead.html

This is why I go with CapitalOne. So far, for me, they don't kill their cards. I had the Schwab 2% Visa and I know the drill. The company will overpromise 2%, pull people in, then realize the program is unsustainable. After this realization, they stop offering the card and then, later, change the terms of the card for existing customers to eliminate the 2% return.

Until CapitalOne screws up (and they certainly may), I'm sticking with them.

As for Fidelity, that's great for people that want to use Fidelity. Enjoy. I'm a Vanguard investor because I believe they have my best interests at heart. I don't have that same confidence in any other investment firm, including Fidelity. And I've been down the road of opening up accounts for deals or promotions. It's just not worth it, the deal always ends and then I have yet another account that I need to close.
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by MnD » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:09 am

You need to use the Cap1 Venture points for cash statement credits on past travel to get the full 2% (or new travel).
Any past travel charges for the past three months are available to "erase" via statement credits that show up the next day and immediately reduce your current balance.

It takes me about 1 minute every three months to erase a few hundred dollars in past travel expenses.
Points don't expire. If you never travel I guess it could be a problem.
I've never tried booking new travel with points, but it looks pretty simple - a portal to one of the major travel sites modified to accept points for purchases.

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mike143
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by mike143 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:17 am

I don't understand your hang up with Fidelity. At the basic level both Capital One and Fidelity both offer investing and credit card options. Fidelity requires you to have a "Fidelity Cash Management Account" if you want to take your points as cash, which at its basic level is just a cash repository that you can link to checking accounts. Yes you can then use that same account for investing, checking, savings, but you are under no obligation to do so. I only used it to transfer cash to my checking account and only recently invest my points in Fidelity's free ETFs so I can check out their brokerage system.

Fidelity has been at 2% for a really long time, thus far this card has staying power.

Looks like Fidelity switch to 2% from 1.5% in December 2008, that is a pretty long time now: https://www.google.com/search?q=fidelit ... F2008&tbm=
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danwhite77
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by danwhite77 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:33 am

mike143 wrote:I don't understand your hang up with Fidelity. At the basic level both Capital One and Fidelity both offer investing and credit card options. Fidelity requires you to have a "Fidelity Cash Management Account" if you want to take your points as cash, which at its basic level is just a cash repository that you can link to checking accounts. Yes you can then use that same account for investing, checking, savings, but you are under no obligation to do so. I only used it to transfer cash to my checking account and only recently invest my points in Fidelity's free ETFs so I can check out their brokerage system.

Fidelity has been at 2% for a really long time, thus far this card has staying power.

Looks like Fidelity switch to 2% from 1.5% in December 2008, that is a pretty long time now: [link]
I don't put any money from the card into CapitalOne, I just credit my account.

It's not that I'm averse to Fidelity alone, it's basically every investment firm other than Vanguard. Vanguard is unique in its structure where the investors own the company. At Fidelity, and everywhere else, someone else owns the company and sometimes treats the company as a piggybank. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/ ... HX20111123

At any rate, Fidelity has shown some signs of altering their 2% VISA. https://www.fidelity.com/cash-managemen ... ature-card The card used to be 2% with an account. Now it's 1.5% on the first $15,000 charged per year and 2% on amounts above $15,000. The Fidelity Amex 2% has been consistently at 2% for quite awhile now.
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lhl12
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by lhl12 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:05 pm

If you spend more than $15,000 annually on your Fidelity Visa, then it's functionally equivalent to a 2% cash back card from dollar one of spending but with a $75 annual fee (i.e. one half of one percent of $15,000). As compared to the Capital One card, this makes the difference only $16 annually, but with no restriction on how the rebate can be used. For me, this is easily worth $16.

feh
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by feh » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:16 pm

I also refuse to play the "what card should I use for this purchase" game.

I use Priceline Rewards Visa. 2% on everything, no annual fee. Easy peasy.

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Lee Saage
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by Lee Saage » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:46 pm

danwhite77 wrote:I have used, and been extraordinarily happy with, CapitalOne cards for years and years. Their Quicksilver card is 1.5% cash back on everything. This is the highest overall (i.e., no rotating categories) reward rate that you can receive without opening a financial account at an institution (e.g., Fidelity). I'm exclusively a Vanguard investor and I don't want to open a Fidelity account, so I have avoided their 2% cards (which seem to be very popular on this board).
Well once again Bogleheads makes me some money. After seeing this post, I contacted Capital One and asked if I could just convert my existing 1% no-fee card to the 1.5% no-fee card. They did it in about 5 minutes via on-line chat. Thanks Dan!
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Sheepdog
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by Sheepdog » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:55 pm

feh wrote:I also refuse to play the "what card should I use for this purchase" game.

I use Priceline Rewards Visa. 2% on everything, no annual fee. Easy peasy.
Feh,
That's great, if you have the card. I have it also, but, no one can get that 2% card today. I also get 5% on all groceries, drugstores, gasoline, WalMart and KMart purchases on another card. However, no one can obtain this card either. The OP was asking about getting a good reward card today.
It's not what you gather, but what you scatter which tells what kind of life you have lived---Helen Walton

feh
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by feh » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:59 pm

Sheepdog wrote:
feh wrote:I also refuse to play the "what card should I use for this purchase" game.

I use Priceline Rewards Visa. 2% on everything, no annual fee. Easy peasy.
Feh,
That's great, if you have the card. I have it also, but, no one can get that 2% card today. I also get 5% on all groceries, drugstores, gasoline, WalMart and KMart purchases on another card. However, no one can obtain this card either. The OP was asking about getting a good reward card today.
Yes, I just realized this. I was going to contradict the "1.5% is the best you can do" statement by providing a URL for Priceline Visa, and saw that they don't offer it any more.

C'est la vie.

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KarlJ
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by KarlJ » Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:10 pm

The 2% Fidelity AmEx is accepted practically everywhere in my experience with a few exceptions where NO credit cards were accepted, only cash or check. I do hold a Chase Freedom VISA, however, for the rotating 5% categories despite the hassle of registering and keeping track of which categories apply in order to maximize the cash back.

MnD
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by MnD » Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:19 pm

lhl12 wrote:If you spend more than $15,000 annually on your Fidelity Visa, then it's functionally equivalent to a 2% cash back card from dollar one of spending but with a $75 annual fee (i.e. one half of one percent of $15,000). As compared to the Capital One card, this makes the difference only $16 annually, but with no restriction on how the rebate can be used. For me, this is easily worth $16.
Money is fungible. As long as 2% of your overall credit card charges are on travel related purchases, you will never have a problem converting your rebate to cash equivalent.
The statement credits reduce your current balance. it really doesn't matter what the statement credit was "for", as long as it can be redeemed when you want it.
In our household, the potential charges to apply the credit to run around 5X what we actually can do, so zero danger of running out of reimbursable travel charges.

The ability to generate near-instant statement credits, not having to reach a spend threshold to garner 2%, not having to deal with yet another investment account and a lower annual fee seem "easily worth it". I understand that there is a way around opening a Fidelity account, but that seems to involve more steps to actually receive the rebate.

Now in the case of a non-traveling homebody, the Cap1 Venture Travel Rewards Card would not be a good match for obvious reasons. :mrgreen:
That's really the only gotcha - you have to have a tiny percentage of charges in travel category to get the full 2% back on everything.

And the Fidelity Amex 2% card and Cap1 Venture 2% Visa card would be a good pairing for the category adverse.
You have card backup and diversity, and zero worries about using the wrong card by mistake and getting 1% back - (shudder).

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frugaltype
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by frugaltype » Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:34 pm

ieee488 wrote:No American Express for me. Ever. http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... &p=1669034
+1 AmEx is a pain in the neck. If you haven't used the card in awhile or not for large amounts and want to do the latter, be prepared to have your card refused.

littlebird
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by littlebird » Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:36 pm

Lee Saage wrote:
danwhite77 wrote:I have used, and been extraordinarily happy with, CapitalOne cards for years and years. Their Quicksilver card is 1.5% cash back on everything. This is the highest overall (i.e., no rotating categories) reward rate that you can receive without opening a financial account at an institution (e.g., Fidelity). I'm exclusively a Vanguard investor and I don't want to open a Fidelity account, so I have avoided their 2% cards (which seem to be very popular on this board).
Well once again Bogleheads makes me some money. After seeing this post, I contacted Capital One and asked if I could just convert my existing 1% no-fee card to the 1.5% no-fee card. They did it in about 5 minutes via on-line chat. Thanks Dan!
Me too. Thanks!

lhl12
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by lhl12 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:07 am

MnD wrote:
lhl12 wrote:If you spend more than $15,000 annually on your Fidelity Visa, then it's functionally equivalent to a 2% cash back card from dollar one of spending but with a $75 annual fee (i.e. one half of one percent of $15,000). As compared to the Capital One card, this makes the difference only $16 annually, but with no restriction on how the rebate can be used. For me, this is easily worth $16.
Money is fungible. As long as 2% of your overall credit card charges are on travel related purchases, you will never have a problem converting your rebate to cash equivalent.
The statement credits reduce your current balance. it really doesn't matter what the statement credit was "for", as long as it can be redeemed when you want it.
In our household, the potential charges to apply the credit to run around 5X what we actually can do, so zero danger of running out of reimbursable travel charges.

The ability to generate near-instant statement credits, not having to reach a spend threshold to garner 2%, not having to deal with yet another investment account and a lower annual fee seem "easily worth it". I understand that there is a way around opening a Fidelity account, but that seems to involve more steps to actually receive the rebate.

Now in the case of a non-traveling homebody, the Cap1 Venture Travel Rewards Card would not be a good match for obvious reasons. :mrgreen:
That's really the only gotcha - you have to have a tiny percentage of charges in travel category to get the full 2% back on everything.

And the Fidelity Amex 2% card and Cap1 Venture 2% Visa card would be a good pairing for the category adverse.
You have card backup and diversity, and zero worries about using the wrong card by mistake and getting 1% back - (shudder).
You do not have to "reach a spend threshold to garner 2%". Rather, you earn 2% from the first dollar of purchases if you instead think of the card as having a $75 annual fee. The Cap1 card has a $59 annual fee, so the difference between the two cards is that one costs $16/year more but automatically deposits cash directly into your account each month. The other costs $16/year less but requires manual intervention to get the credit, which has a restriction (perhaps a low probability one, but still a restriction) on how the credit can be applied. Certainly many may prefer the Cap1 card so as not to have to have a Fidelity account, but I did want to be clear that the difference between the two is only $16/year.

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cflannagan
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by cflannagan » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:28 am

I own the following 3 rewards cards:

Amazon Rewards
3% Amazon purchases (and additionally, shipping is free because of Prime membership, and taxes are free in Florida, for now)
2% Restaurants, Office Supply, Drugstores
1% Everything Else

Penfed Rewards
5% Gas
3% Groceries
1% Everything Else

Chase Freedom (for current quarter only, it changes every quarter)
5% Theme Parks
5% Kohl's

None of those have annual fees, all are on autopay plan. Heaven.

tnslona
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by tnslona » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:30 am

https://www.americanexpress.com/us/cont ... etail.html

OP, Check the link. Walmart is out. Interestingly, Sams is not mentioned in warehouse clubs.

Examples of merchants where you will NOT earn additional rewards include:
Specialty stores (e.g., fish markets, cheese shops, wine shops, and other specialty food stores )
Superstores (e.g. Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart)
Warehouse clubs (e.g. BJ's Club and Costco Wholesale)

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cflannagan
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by cflannagan » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:34 am

tnslona wrote:https://www.americanexpress.com/us/cont ... etail.html

OP, Check the link. Walmart is out. Interestingly, Sams is not mentioned in warehouse clubs.

Examples of merchants where you will NOT earn additional rewards include:
Specialty stores (e.g., fish markets, cheese shops, wine shops, and other specialty food stores )
Superstores (e.g. Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart)
Warehouse clubs (e.g. BJ's Club and Costco Wholesale)
Yes. Also, I learned this from Lifehacker article the other day - be careful about using cards at stores you thought belong to a specific merchant code, but doesn't. (Not sure if this is a concern only for VISA cards, or a more general one).

Example: Some Walmarts in my area is under "GROCERY STORES/SUPERMARKETS/BAKERIES" category, while others are under "DISCOUNT STORES/WAREHOUSE/WHOLESALE" category.

Use this link to look up merchant codes of the stores you shop at

http://visa.via.infonow.net/locator/usa ... yAction.do

MarathonInvestor
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by MarathonInvestor » Fri Aug 09, 2013 7:27 am

cflannagan wrote:
tnslona wrote:https://www.americanexpress.com/us/cont ... etail.html

OP, Check the link. Walmart is out. Interestingly, Sams is not mentioned in warehouse clubs.

Examples of merchants where you will NOT earn additional rewards include:
Specialty stores (e.g., fish markets, cheese shops, wine shops, and other specialty food stores )
Superstores (e.g. Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart)
Warehouse clubs (e.g. BJ's Club and Costco Wholesale)
Yes. Also, I learned this from Lifehacker article the other day - be careful about using cards at stores you thought belong to a specific merchant code, but doesn't. (Not sure if this is a concern only for VISA cards, or a more general one).

Example: Some Walmarts in my area is under "GROCERY STORES/SUPERMARKETS/BAKERIES" category, while others are under "DISCOUNT STORES/WAREHOUSE/WHOLESALE" category.

Use this link to look up merchant codes of the stores you shop at

http://visa.via.infonow.net/locator/usa ... yAction.do
This is why I'm confused regarding the Amex rewards cards. The Targets and Walmarts in my area are all listed with MCC code 5411-Grocery. The Amex link provided by "tnslona" says Walmart is a superstore and does not qualify, but how does Amex check this?

Do they go by the MCC code or do they have another way to filter out transactions from Walmart, Target, etc...?

I was hoping there was someone on this forum with an Amex rewards card and could confirm whether or not they received the grocery rewards amount when shopping at a Walmart or Target listed with a MCC code of 5411.

dickenjb
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by dickenjb » Fri Aug 09, 2013 7:44 am

MnD wrote:You need to use the Cap1 Venture points for cash statement credits on past travel to get the full 2% (or new travel).
Any past travel charges for the past three months are available to "erase" via statement credits that show up the next day and immediately reduce your current balance.

It takes me about 1 minute every three months to erase a few hundred dollars in past travel expenses.
Points don't expire. If you never travel I guess it could be a problem.
I've never tried booking new travel with points, but it looks pretty simple - a portal to one of the major travel sites modified to accept points for purchases.
+1

To get the 2% you need to use the "Purchase Eraser" to erase past travel.

In practice you can "erase" the same purchase more than once, so one $100 car rental can be "erased" 5x to redeem 50,000 points for $500 statement credit (5x $100)

Even if you "never" travel (is there anyone who never travels?) you could book a refundable air ticket, refund it, then "erase" the purchase multiple times.

Everything travel counts - even the BART, hotels, airfare, Amtrak, you name it.

lhl12
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by lhl12 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:04 am

dickenjb wrote:
MnD wrote:You need to use the Cap1 Venture points for cash statement credits on past travel to get the full 2% (or new travel).
Any past travel charges for the past three months are available to "erase" via statement credits that show up the next day and immediately reduce your current balance.

It takes me about 1 minute every three months to erase a few hundred dollars in past travel expenses.
Points don't expire. If you never travel I guess it could be a problem.
I've never tried booking new travel with points, but it looks pretty simple - a portal to one of the major travel sites modified to accept points for purchases.
+1

To get the 2% you need to use the "Purchase Eraser" to erase past travel.

In practice you can "erase" the same purchase more than once, so one $100 car rental can be "erased" 5x to redeem 50,000 points for $500 statement credit (5x $100)

Even if you "never" travel (is there anyone who never travels?) you could book a refundable air ticket, refund it, then "erase" the purchase multiple times.

Everything travel counts - even the BART, hotels, airfare, Amtrak, you name it.
That's all fine, but I would rather pay $16/year not to have to pull out my "eraser" each quarter for the rest of my life.

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cflannagan
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by cflannagan » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:11 am

MarathonInvestor wrote:
cflannagan wrote:
tnslona wrote:https://www.americanexpress.com/us/cont ... etail.html

OP, Check the link. Walmart is out. Interestingly, Sams is not mentioned in warehouse clubs.

Examples of merchants where you will NOT earn additional rewards include:
Specialty stores (e.g., fish markets, cheese shops, wine shops, and other specialty food stores )
Superstores (e.g. Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart)
Warehouse clubs (e.g. BJ's Club and Costco Wholesale)
Yes. Also, I learned this from Lifehacker article the other day - be careful about using cards at stores you thought belong to a specific merchant code, but doesn't. (Not sure if this is a concern only for VISA cards, or a more general one).

Example: Some Walmarts in my area is under "GROCERY STORES/SUPERMARKETS/BAKERIES" category, while others are under "DISCOUNT STORES/WAREHOUSE/WHOLESALE" category.

Use this link to look up merchant codes of the stores you shop at

http://visa.via.infonow.net/locator/usa ... yAction.do
This is why I'm confused regarding the Amex rewards cards. The Targets and Walmarts in my area are all listed with MCC code 5411-Grocery. The Amex link provided by "tnslona" says Walmart is a superstore and does not qualify, but how does Amex check this?

Do they go by the MCC code or do they have another way to filter out transactions from Walmart, Target, etc...?

I was hoping there was someone on this forum with an Amex rewards card and could confirm whether or not they received the grocery rewards amount when shopping at a Walmart or Target listed with a MCC code of 5411.
Indeed. The question becomes, is merchant codes specific to a credit card brand (MC, Visa, Amex, etc), or are the merchant codes the same for all cc brands?

If merchant code for specific stores is the same for all cc brands, and ASSUMING Amex calculates the rewards this way (hopefully they do not do anything like hardcoding logic on their end that all transactions from "Walmart" will be considered as discount store, ignoring merchant code in the process), then it is quite possible that the Amex link is wrong and that in fact, Amex card CAN be used for grocery rewards at Walmart's that is coded as "GROCERY" rather than "DISCOUNT STORE".

Independently verifying this by Amex holders would be fantastic - I'm very curious about this myself. Remember, the test of using Amex for grocery rewards at a Walmart has to be done at one which is recognized as "GROCERY" by the VISA link I provided above, rather than "DISCOUNT STORE".

MarathonInvestor
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by MarathonInvestor » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:15 am

I guess we could always write our own terms and conditions and hope the card issuer blindly accepts them like this guy did:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/pers ... ms.html?fb

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schnoodlemom
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by schnoodlemom » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:20 am

MarathonInvestor wrote: I was hoping there was someone on this forum with an Amex rewards card and could confirm whether or not they received the grocery rewards amount when shopping at a Walmart or Target listed with a MCC code of 5411.
I checked the link provided and our local Target came up with both codes (discount -5310 & grocery -5411) for the same address. In looking at recent purchases on our Blue Cash rewards account online, I do see that Target and Walmart are classified as wholesale stores and thus not in the grocery category. We do most of our grocery shopping at a local Meijer's that is considered a grocery (only -5411), though it closely resembles a Target/Walmart supercenter. We received our Blue Cash Preferred card before they limited the 6% rewards up to $6000 per year on groceries, which doesn't apply to us until our next renewal date. Thus, this has been a very good card for us. I also like the 3% discount at select department stores (by us, that's Macy's, Penny's, Sears, Kohl's, etc.) Good luck in your search for answers!

Our other major card is CapOne Cash Rewards Visa (1.5% everything, no limit, no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee) So far, so good.

smackboy1
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by smackboy1 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:55 am

MarathonInvestor wrote:I am considering these cards for the following reasons:
a. They offer cash rewards (I prefer cash over points, miles, etc...).
b. I only want a single card for all of my purchases and these cards offer the highest cash back percentages for all purchase categories (i.e. I don't want to use one card for gas and another card for groceries, etc...)
c. They pay a cash bonus for signing up.

Amex Blue Cash Preferred:
+ $150 cash reward after spending $1000 in the first 3 months
+ 6% cash back on groceries (for up to $6000/yr, 1% thereafter)
+ 3% cash back on gas purchases
+ 1% cash back on all other purchases
- $75 annual fee
...
Just looking at the numbers, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card is supperior due to the higher reward percentages, however, their terms state the following:
You will earn a reward of: 6% on the first $6,000 of eligible purchases in an annual reward year at supermarkets located in the U.S. (superstores and warehouse clubs are not considered supermarkets).
Since I do most of my grocery shopping at my local Walmart, I am unclear as to whether either of these cards will count purchases at Walmart as "grocery" purchases eligible for the higher reward amounts.
We have been Amex Blue Cash members for years. Our particular cash rewards plan is no longer available, replaced by 2 new plans, the Everyday Card and the Preferred Card (summarize by OP). Our grandfathered plan is similar in that we get 5% cash back on groceries, drugstore and gas purchases.

Amex does NOT consider general stores or warehouse clubs as "grocery" or "gas" no matter what they sell or how they code themselves. So buying groceries, medicines, or gas at Walmart, Target, Costco, Sam's Club, BJ's etc. earn the lower cash back reward (1% in our case). In order to earn higher cash back rewards, it has to be a stand alone grocery store/drug store/gas station.

While it's true that many small merchants don't accept Amex and it's not popular overseas, most major merchants do. We pay many recurring services on Amex e.g. satellite TV, internet, cell phone, home phone, lawn service.

For the hard core, it's possible to maximize cash back buying gift cards at grocery stores. e.g. Amazon gift card (5% cash back is more than Amazon's own CC).

We also have Target's Red Card which gives 5% discounts on all Target purchases.
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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cflannagan
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by cflannagan » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:07 am

schnoodlemom wrote:
MarathonInvestor wrote: I was hoping there was someone on this forum with an Amex rewards card and could confirm whether or not they received the grocery rewards amount when shopping at a Walmart or Target listed with a MCC code of 5411.
I checked the link provided and our local Target came up with both codes (discount -5310 & grocery -5411) for the same address. In looking at recent purchases on our Blue Cash rewards account online, I do see that Target and Walmart are classified as wholesale stores and thus not in the grocery category. We do most of our grocery shopping at a local Meijer's that is considered a grocery (only -5411), though it closely resembles a Target/Walmart supercenter. We received our Blue Cash Preferred card before they limited the 6% rewards up to $6000 per year on groceries, which doesn't apply to us until our next renewal date. Thus, this has been a very good card for us. I also like the 3% discount at select department stores (by us, that's Macy's, Penny's, Sears, Kohl's, etc.) Good luck in your search for answers!

Our other major card is CapOne Cash Rewards Visa (1.5% everything, no limit, no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee) So far, so good.
Ok, good to know. Seems that the merchant codes shown at VISA link do not necessarily applies in the same way for other cc brands. Fortunately, all 3 of my reward cards are VISA's.

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G-Money
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by G-Money » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:18 am

danwhite77 wrote:I have used, and been extraordinarily happy with, CapitalOne cards for years and years. Their Quicksilver card is 1.5% cash back on everything. This is the highest overall (i.e., no rotating categories) reward rate that you can receive without opening a financial account at an institution (e.g., Fidelity). I'm exclusively a Vanguard investor and I don't want to open a Fidelity account, so I have avoided their 2% cards (which seem to be very popular on this board).
I'm down to a 2 card system right now. PenFed Cash Rewards for 5% gas only (I leave the card in my car). Amazon Rewards for everything else. But after calculating my average return on the Amazon card (about 1.3%), I am strongly considering adding/moving to CapitalOne Quicksilver. I suppose I could just use the Amazon card at Amazon, and still only carry one card. But then there'd still be 3 cc bills coming each month . . .
Don't assume I know what I'm talking about.

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cflannagan
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Re: Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by cflannagan » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:01 pm

G-Money wrote:
danwhite77 wrote:I have used, and been extraordinarily happy with, CapitalOne cards for years and years. Their Quicksilver card is 1.5% cash back on everything. This is the highest overall (i.e., no rotating categories) reward rate that you can receive without opening a financial account at an institution (e.g., Fidelity). I'm exclusively a Vanguard investor and I don't want to open a Fidelity account, so I have avoided their 2% cards (which seem to be very popular on this board).
I'm down to a 2 card system right now. PenFed Cash Rewards for 5% gas only (I leave the card in my car). Amazon Rewards for everything else. But after calculating my average return on the Amazon card (about 1.3%), I am strongly considering adding/moving to CapitalOne Quicksilver. I suppose I could just use the Amazon card at Amazon, and still only carry one card. But then there'd still be 3 cc bills coming each month . . .
I set up balance-paid-in-full autopay for all 3 cards (Penfed, Amazon, and Chase Freedom). If you need to review transactions before they are auto-paid, why not set some kind of reminder occurring on a regular basis?

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